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American University
 
Online Shopping Guide: Books, Music and Videos

Here is a very selective list of online shopping sites you might want to visit, compiled by Washington Post staff writers. Click on the links below to go to the other sections of the chart.

Clothing | Books & Music | Electronics | Food | Toys | Tickets | Beauty | Luxury


Amazon
What they're selling: Books, music, movies and more.
Shipping: Standard (3-7 days): $2 to $4 per shipment, plus 95 cents to $1.25 per item. Second-day air: $3 to $8.95 per shipment plus 95 cents to $1.95 per item. Next-day air: $5 to $12.95 per shipment plus $2.95 to $6.95 per item.
Gift wrapping: $1.95 per item, $4.95 for deluxe wrapping.
Return Policy: Amazon allows returns within 30 days of shipping. Returned items must be in original, unopened condition; customer pays shipping.
Discounts: 50 percent off top ten bestsellers and advance orders.
Critique: Amazon is still the online store to beat. It has a deep selection in nearly every category that it goes after, from paperbacks to electronics.
Barnes & Noble
What they're selling: Books, music and videos.
Shipping: Standard (3-6 business days): $3 per order plus 95 cents per item. Second-day air: $6 per order plus $1.95 per item (except music: 95 cents per item) Next-day air: $8 per order plus $2.95 per item (except music: $1.95 per item)
Gift wrapping: $2 per item.
Return Policy: Unopened purchases may be returned within 30 days of purchase for a full refund. The company pays postage for returns. Customers may exchange opened purchases.
Discounts: Barnes & Noble's online store doesn't offer any deals substantially different from its brick and mortar stores. Generally, there is a 30 percent discount off retail price.
Critique: Barnes & Noble's site seems a lot like certain other online book and music stores, but hey-it works. In an attempt to replicate what it's like to actually shop in the mega-bookstores, Barnes & Noble also peddles Starbucks coffee at its Web site.
Borders
What they're selling: Books, music and videos.
Shipping: Standard (3 to 7 business days): $3 per order plus 95 cents per item. Second-day air: $6 per order plus $1.95 per item. Next-day air: $8 per order plus $2.95 per item.
Gift wrapping: $2 per item.
Return Policy: 30-day return period from shipping date. If a return is made because something is wrong with the product, Borders will credit the customers account for the shipping cost. Otherwise, the customer pays for shipping.
Discounts: 50 percent off bestsellers and forthcoming books.
Critique: Borders uses the same general site structure as Amazon, but as its music and video stores are still new, the selection can be a little limited.
CDNow
What they're selling: Music and movies.
Shipping: For ground delivery: $2.99 for the first item and 99 cents each for the next 2 items, up to a maximum of $4.97 per shipment.
Gift wrapping: $2 per item.
Return Policy: Return any item within 30 days of delivery for a refund, minus shipping and handling.
Discounts: Titles in CDNow's "Top 100" are 30 percent off.
Critique: CDNow is a great reference for folks looking for music and music information. This Web site has an impressively deep selection, with many online music samples. Customers can search by artist, song title or album title.
DVDExpress.com
What they're selling: DVD-formatted movies, electronics, music, video games.
Shipping: Standard, 99 cents plus 95 cents per item. Second-day air: $6 plus $1.45 per item. Next-day air: $8 plus $1.65 per item.
Gift wrapping: $1.95 per item.
Return Policy: Returns can be made within 30 days of purchase. To return a disc for exchange or refund, merchandise must still be shrink wrapped. Customer pays for shipping (unless the product is being returned because of a product defect).
Discounts: DVDExpress offers discounts of up to 50% on titles featured in its "Library Builders" section and up to 40% off on preorders of upcoming titles.
Critique: DVDExpress has started selling music and electronics, but, as the name suggests, the strength here is DVD-formatted movies. This online store breaks its DVD movie selection into almost 30 categories, from anime to Western.

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